Assam’s muga silk production has taken a hit due to increased temperature and incessant and unpredictable rainfall
The term ‘Assam Muga Silk’ may soon become a passé as Mizoram is likely to unseat Assam as one of the major centres of muga silk production. Thanks to increased temperature and incessant and unpredictable rainfall, Assam’s production of muga silk cocoons has been hit. Mizoram has lapped up the opportunity and stepped in to fill the gap created by a drastic decline in muga production in Assam.
During the inauguration of Integrated Muga Silk Development Project (IMSDP) initiated by the Mizoram Sericulture Department on December 3, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said, “After Assam faced drastic decline in muga silk production, a pilot study was conducted in 2012 and 2013. The high altitude of Mizoram, Nagaland and other Himalayan States showed promising results for muga silkworm rearing in summer because of which muga and other silkworm varieties are now being reared on a big scale under NERTPS funding.”
What is North East Textile Promotion Scheme?
The main objective of the North East Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS) is “to develop and modernise the textile sector in the North East Region by providing required Government support in terms of raw material, seed banks, machinery, common facility centres, skill development, design and marketing support”.
Claiming that global warming can prove to be a blessing in disguise for sericulture farmers of Mizoram, Thanhawla urged the farmers to make optimum use of NERTPS and make Mizoram a new destination for those looking to buy muga silk. The state government’s New Land Use Policy has provided financial and technical support to a large section of sericulture farmers.
Under the NERTPS, the Mizoram Sericulture department is implementing two major projects:
1) Integrated sericulture development project at a financial outlay of Rs 3,249.2 lakh, targeting 600 beneficiaries
2) Intensive bivoltine sericulture development project at an outlay of Rs 3,014.16 lakh, targeting 1,000 beneficiaries.
Muga heritage of Assam may face extinction by 2040
According to the Assam Sericulture department, there has been a decline in Muga production over the years, and in the past few years the state has been producing far behind the expected target of 150 metric tonnes a year. While the ideal temperature for rearing silkworm ranges between 24 to 32°C, with a humidity level between 80 and 85 per cent, an increase in temperature in the last few years has been affecting the production.
The decline of Som and Soalo plantation areas in government sericulture farms is one of the reasons pushing Muga silk towards the verge of extinction. There are 106 government Muga farms in Assam and most of them have been encroached. That led to decreasing food availability of Muga silkworm.
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